The secrets to an inclusive workplace

Fri 7 July 2017

Kevin Figueiredo presenting at the 2017 Annual national Conference

When Kevin Figueiredo, General Manager of Safety, Health and Wellbeing at Woolworths Limited, attended the Australian Network on Disability (AND)’s 2016 Annual National Conference, he was struck by a presentation that eventually led him to a distribution centre in Anderson, South Carolina.

The presentation was by keynote speaker, Randy Lewis, former Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Logistics at Walgreens pharmacy in the US. Randy, whose son has autism, pioneered a world renowned employment model that resulted in a more inclusive and efficient workforce at one of the largest pharmacy store chains in the US.

Yesterday, Kevin shared what he learnt with AND members at an exclusive, member-only webinar.

Below are just some of Walgreens’ ‘secrets to an inclusive workplace’, as told to Kevin.

1. Remove the fear of failure

It’s common for employers to have doubts about employing people with disability. There are often misconceptions about the risks involved, like issues around cost, safety, productivity, performance management and reliability. However, the numbers suggest otherwise.

Australian (Deakin University 2002) and overseas studies have found that workers with disability are no more likely to be injured at work than other employees and there are no differences in performance and productivity. It was also identified that employees with disability actually have fewer scheduled absences than employees without disability, as well as increased tenure. On average, employing people with disability does not cost any more than employing people without disability.

Assistance with the cost of making workplace adjustments is available through the Australian Government funded Employment Assistance Fund.

2. Find your champion

One of the keys to the success of Walgreens’ inclusive employment model is the support of champions in leadership positions. As Greg Wasson, former CEO of Walgreens puts it, “Find a champion with passion, in a big business.”

3. Go big

To make your disability inclusion strategy really take off, Kevin advises that organisations need to “go big, not incremental”. Having a target or quota of making your workforce made up of at least 30 per cent people with disability (in Australia, almost 20 per cent of people have disability) is a good place to start.

“If anyone feels comfortable with 30 per cent, make it 50 per cent. Go bigger than you’re comfortable with,” said Kevin.

4. Focus on the person, not the process

One of the biggest keys to the success of Walgreen’s inclusive employment model is their shift from focusing on how a job is done, to getting a job done. Rather than making assumptions about the best way for an employee to get the job done, Walgreens introduced a simple but effective method to implementing effective workplace adjustments.

“Randy gifted me with ATP, and today I’m going to gift it to you. What is ATP? It’s simple. ‘Ask the Person’,” said Kevin. “Focus on the person, ask them what they need to work to the best of their ability, and they will excel.”

What people said

“I really like how you're sharing the knowledge. Like we saw with Westpac, Lendlease and AND with the development of the Barangaroo campus, everybody gains when the knowledge is shared. Thanks for a great session, Kevin.” – Grazia P

“Manager finding out what motivates their team - love it!” – Kim T

“Great to now have Walgreen's evidence of great outcomes with its approach.” – Ian F

“Thank you very much - Workshop was excellent!” – Amanda A

“Much food for thought.” – Deb L

Missed out?

Don’t worry. If you are a member of AND you can access a recorded version of the webinar and a transcript in the Members Area.

What’s coming up?

While we haven’t confirmed the topic yet, our next webinar will be held in September. Look out for more information in our monthly newsletter.

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